EJ 230003-RO, et al.
           

                                  STATE OF NEW YORK
                      DIVISION OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL
                            OFFICE OF RENT ADMINISTRATION
                                     GERTZ PLAZA
                               92-31 UNION HALL STREET
                               JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11433



          ----------------------------------x
          IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE     ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
          APPEALS OF                              DOCKET NOS.:   
                                                  EJ 230003-RO;  EI 230127-RT;
              SOLICO, INC., Owner                 EI 210212-RT;  EJ 210011-RT
              and HYMAN LEVINE, GLORIA WEISS 
              and  LENESTER   POHL,   Tenants,           RENT   ADMINISTRATOR'S
                                                  DOCKET NO.: 
                                  PETITIONERS     DG 230109-B;   
          ----------------------------------x

                 ORDER AND OPINION DENYING OWNER'S AND ONE TENANT'S
                  PETITIONS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW AND GRANTING
                  TWO TENANTS' PETITIONS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW


          The  above-named  petitioner-tenants,  and  owner  filed   timely
          Petitions for Administrative Review against an  order  issued  on
          August 29, 1990 by a Rent Administrator  concerning  the  housing
          accommodations known as Various  Apartments  at  1610  Avenue  P,
          Brooklyn, New York  wherein  the  Administrator  determined  that
          there had  been  a  decrease  in  services  and,  based  thereon,
          directed a rent reduction for  46  rent-controlled  and  11  rent
          stabilized tenants for three items listed on the  complaint,  but
          determined to dismiss eight other items.

          Subsequent thereto a petition was filed by the  petitioner-owner,
          in the Supreme Court pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice 
          Law and Rules requesting that the "deemed denial" of its Adminis 
          trative appeal be annulled.

          On April 24, 1991, an order was signed by Justice Shaw  remitting
          the proceeding to the Division in accordance with  a  stipulation
          agreement between the attorneys for the Division a d  petitioner-
          owner, wherein it was agreed that the  DHCR  shall  expeditiously
          issue a determination on petitioner-owner's petition.




          This order and opinion is issued in consideration of  all  issues
          raised in the above owner's and tenants' administrative  appeals,
          in full consolidation of those proceedings.

          The proceeding was commenced on July 10,  1989  when  28  tenants
          joined in the filing of  a  complaint  alleging  a  reduction  of
          building-wide services consisting of the following 13 items:

               1.   Security - vestibule door frequently inoperative;.







          EJ 230003-RO, et al.
               2.   Intercom - many units not functional;
               3.   Sidewalk - holes, very unsafe;
               4.   Peepholes - unsafe; antiquated;
               5.   Water - flashing from hot to cold;
               6.   Incinerator rooms - sinks inoperative;
               7.   Lighting, inadequate in  lobby,  East  17th  Street
                    entrance, and 6th floor stairwell;
               8.   Hole in lobby floor;
               9.   Basement door - bolted;
              10.   Basement ramp - uneven and broken up;
              11.   Elevator mirror - broken;
              12.   Apartment repairs;
              13.   East 17th Street door - slams.

          The owner's answer stated that the building's managing agent  was
          notified of the problems pertaining to items Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8,  9,
          10 and 13 and that the owner would follow this up to make certain 
          the work was done.  As for items Nos. 4 and 12 the  owner  denied
          knowledge of any specific requests but would attend to them  upon
          receipt.  The owner denied responsibility for items No. 2 and  3,
          stating that the co-operative board dealt with repairs of  common
          areas.  Finally, the owner stated that it had first signed a con 
          tract for a new entrance door, which would be installed shortly.

          An answer was also filed by the managing agent for  the  building
          who stated that it was aware of the tenants' complaints  and  was
          in the process of getting proposals to cure them.

          In an Order issued on August 29, 1990 under Docket No. DG 230109 
          B, the District Rent Administrator determined, as  based  upon  a
          physical inspection by a DHCR staff member on March 20, 1990 that 
          a reduction of building-wide services had occurred,  and  reduced
          the rent of the rent stabilized tenants to the level in effect 
          prior to the most recent guideline adjustment  effective  August,
          1989; and that, as based upon the same findings of reduced ser- 





          vices, reduced the maximum  legal  rent  of  the  rent-controlled
          tenants according to the following schedule:

               Incinerator sinks inoperative throughout . . . $ 3.00
               Numerous holes in lobby floor  . . . . . . . . $ 5.00
               Basement ramp is broken and has cracks . . . . $ 6.00

          The Order also stated that the following services were  found  to
          be maintained:

                    Entrance and vestibule doors operative.
                    Intercom is operative.
                    Holes and cracks on sidewalk was repaired.
                    Incinerator   chute   was    operative    and    no
                    accumulation garbage.
                Adequate  lighting  on  6th   floor   and   East   17th
                    Street entrance.
                    East 17th Street entrance door is operative.







          EJ 230003-RO, et al.
                    No broken mirrors in elevators.

          The order dismissed the issue of the basement doors being  locked
          because the complaint failed to indicate  the  tenant's  need  to
          have doors unlocked.

          In the owner's petition, dated October 1, 1990,  as  supplemented
          in a separate submission on January 22, 1991, the owner  contends
          that the Administrator's order was arbitrary  and  capricious  in
          general and that the determination  to  reduce  the  rent  solely
          because of "three minor items," which constitute no more  than  a
          de minimis loss of services, is erroneous and  must  be  revoked.
          In the case of the inoperable "incinerator room sinks," the owner 
          contends that the sinks were only intended for building employees 
          to have access to water to clean the  public  areas,  a  function
          that has totally been fulfilled by a working sink  in  the  base-
          ment.  Since all the tenants have sinks in good working order  in
          the apartments and do not claim to have ever used  the  sinks  in
          the garbage closets, it  cannot  be  said  that  they  have  been
          deprived of anything they used to have. 

          Although the owner acknowledges that it holds the  unsold  shares
          of the subject-apartments, it claims that  it  neither  owns  nor
          manages the building.

          The owner also claims that the holes in the lobby floor  and  the
          cracks in the  basement  ramp  are  "isolated  conditions"  which
          "normally occur in the course of maintenance of a large building" 
          and do not constitute decreased services.  Furthermore, since the 


          complaint only mentioned one "hole" in  the  lobby  -  which  was
          corrected - the inspector's finding that there  were  others  can
          only mean this was a "new condition"  which  occurred  after  the
          complaint was filed.  The later holes, which the  owner  explains
          are only "cosmetic" and "do not constitute a hazard," were caused 
          by the removal of glass partitions to make a new lobby  vestibule
          after the complaint was filed, and it is  thus  improper  to  use
          them as a cause for a rent reduction when  they  had  never  been
          referred to in the  tenants'  complaint.   Similarly,  the  owner
          contends that the ramp defects are also only "cosmetic," pose  no
          danger to the staff when removing the garbage and, at  any  rate,
          are not in a public area.  It has since been repaired.

          Finally, the owner  contends  that  the  inspector's  finding  of
          three "minor defective conditions" is similar to  the  Matter  of
          Melohn Properties (Docket No. ARL-0752-L),  wherein  the  Commis-
          sioner held that the five items cited in the order were "isolated 
          occurrences" that required only minor repair work,  and  did  not
          justify a rent reduction. 

          One tenant answered the petition, stating  that,  as  a  disabled
          tenant, she used to have access to the basement with her door key 
          and used the basement elevator when she returned  from  shopping,
          but that the superintendent began locking the door with  a  latch
          after his tools were stolen.  As a result, the  tenants  have  to
          drag their shopping carts up eight steps.








          EJ 230003-RO, et al.
          The petitions of tenants Gloria Weiss (Apt. 6-C) and Hyman  Levin
          (Apt. 6-L), both seek modification of the order to include  their
          names as they both signed the complaint but were omitted from the 
          list of tenants whose rents are reduced by the  Order.   Enclosed
          with both petitions were copies of the complaint, which  verified
          their signatures.  The owner filed no answer to either petition.

          The petition filed by Lenester Pohl purports to be on  behalf  of
          all effected tenants but contains no evidence of writt n  author-
          ization to act in such representative  capacity  as  required  by
          Section 2529.1 of the Rent  Stabilization  Code.   That  petition
          challenges the order's findings that the  lighting  at  the  East
          17th Street entrance and in the center lobby were  adequate,  and
          that there were no holes in the front  walkway.   It  also  notes
          that the order never addresses the issue of  the  "flashing"  hot
          and cold water.  Finally, the petition  explains  that  the  real
          issue of the basement door is that the lock cannot be operated by 
          the disabled tenants. 




          The owner's answer to this petition contends that the  petitioner
          is not an authorized representative and that  none  of  the  five
          items that were listed merits a rent reduction.   It  sets  forth
          the amount of illumination required under the Housing Maintenance 
          Code and contends that the building has always met this  standard
          in all public areas.  The owner also states that all holes in the 
          front walkway had been repaired prior  to  the  issuance  of  the
          order, as was confirmed by the inspection.  With respect  to  the
          "flashing" hot and cold water temperature, the owner denies  that
          it is a decrease of service, since the tenants never  allege  any
          problem with the plumbing system, which remains in  good  working
          condition.  It explains that momentary changes in the temperature 
          are common in older buildings, especially if a toilet is  flushed
          on the same cold water line.  Finally, with respect to the locked 
          basement door, the owner  notes  that  the  complaint  failed  to
          properly notify the owner of the nature of the problem.   If  the
          type of lock presents a special problem for the disabled  tenant,
          as the petition claims, this was never stated  on  the  complaint
          and thus the owner was never able to address it.

          The Commissioner is of the  opinion  that  the  owner's  petition
          should be denied, and that the petition of Lenester  Pohl  should
          also be denied.  Insofar as the two individual petitions  by  the
          tenants Gloria Weiss and Hyman Levine only request  the  addition
          of their names to the order - which had erroneously omitted  them
          - they shall both be granted in their entirety, effective  as  of
          the date of the Administrator's order.  Since they are both rent 
          stabilized tenants, their Legal Regulated Rent is reduced by  the
          percentage of the most recent  guidelines  adjustment  for  their
          respective leases which commenced before the  effective  date  of
          this rent reduction.  

          The owner's attempt to repeat the processing of the complaint  on
          appeal by making arguments it failed to assert  into  the  record
          below must be rejected.  In its answer of September 15, 1989  the
          owner clearly acknowledged its responsibility for  all  three  of







          EJ 230003-RO, et al.
          the items that  were  cited  in  the  reduction  order  and  even
          promised to notify the managing agent as well as to "follow up to 
          make  certain  the  work  is  done."   The  managing  agent  also
          acknowledged that proposals were  being  sought  to  correct  the
          conditions complained of.  There is  nothing  equivocal  in  such
          language, nor is there any other communicati n  to  the  Adminis-
          trator which raises even one of the objections mentioned  in  the
          petition.  Therefore, the claims that the  use  of  the  "garbage
          closet" sink was never a service to the tenants is precluded from 
          further investigation.  Similarly inadmissible is  any  claim  of
          the de minimis effects of the service reductions.  It is noted 

          that the DHCR  has  no  discretion  to  consider  the  extent  of
          service diminutions that are verified on inspection (see  Tenants
          of Hyde Park Gardens v. D.H.C.R., 140 ADZ 357, 527 N.Y.S. 2d  841
          (2d Dept. 1988), aff'd. 73,  N.Y.  2d  998,  541  N.Y.S.  2d  345
          [1989]).  Just as persuasive, however, is that  the  complaint  -
          except in one instance - is quite clear as to the nature  of  the
          problems caused by each item, thus permitting  the  inspector  to
          document his  findings  clearly.   In  the  final  analysis,  the
          specificity of the complaint and thoroughness of  the  inspection
          as to the verified defects clearly sustains a rational basis  for
          the Administrator's determination. 

          With respect to the claim that the holes - plural - are different 
          from the - singular - "hole"  mentioned  in  the  complaint,  the
          petition gives no convincing reason to discount the  findings  of
          the inspection report.  Moreover, the claim that  the  owner  did
          not receive proper notice of the defect is contradicted by t e  -
          unproven - claim that the hole had been repaired. 

          Finally, the owner's contention that, as a mere share holder,  it
          is not responsible for repairs to the building is without  merit.
          The Commissioner has held the owner  fully  responsible  for  its
          obligations under the Rent Stabilization Code notwithstanding any 
          difficulties  in  obtaining  the  approval  of  the   corporation
          (Accord: ARL 1514-L).  In the present case, the  owner  does  not
          even allege  such  difficulties,  and  its  particular  share  of
          equity in the building has no bearing  on  its  status  as  legal
          owner under the Code.

          The petition of the tenant-Pohl, although  concerned  with  items
          in the complaint, for which the rent was  not  reduced,  is  also
          insufficient to  upset  the  Administrator's  determination.   It
          alleges that three of the items found to be adequate  on  inspec-
          tion - lighting in the lobby, lighting at the  East  17th  Street
          entrance and the alleged  holes  in  the  front  walkway  -  were
          defective notwithstanding the inspection  report,  but  gives  no
          reasons why.  It must be held as axiomatic,  however,  that  mere
          disagreement with the findings of a qualified inspector  in  such
          matters, without specifying an error of law or fact, provides  no
          basis for challenging a holding by  the  Division.   As  for  the
          basement lock being inoperable by disabled tenants, the owner  is
          correct that this was not specified in the complaint.   In  fact,
          as mentioned earlier, it is the one item in  the  complaint  that
          did not properly notify the owner of the nature of  the  problem.
          A rent reduction for it would also  be  unwarranted  because  the
          tenants do not object to the use of a lock or bolt per se, as the 







          EJ 230003-RO, et al.
          complaint seemed to indicate, but only to the type of lock used.


          With respect  to  the  issue  of  sudden  fluctuations  in  water
          temperature, the owner is directed  to  investigate  this  allege
          condition and determine the extent  and  cause  of  the  problem.
          The tenants are advised to file another complaint as  relates  to
          this and/or the immediately preceding issue  should  they  remain
          uncorrected 30 days after the issuance of this order and opinion.

          This order and opinion is issued without prejudice to the owner's 
          right to apply for a restoration of rent based on restoration  of
          services, if warranted.


          THEREFORE, in accordance with  the  Rent  Stabilization  Law  and
          Code, it is,

          ORDERED, that the owner's petition be, and the  same  hereby  is,
          denied and that the petition of the tenant-Pohl be, and the  same
          hereby is, denied; that the tenants' petitions,  Docket  Nos.  EI
          210212-RT and EJ 210011-RT, be, and the same hereby are,  granted
          in accordance with this order and  opinion,  and  that  the  Rent
          Administrator's order be, and the same hereby is, upheld.


          ISSUED:


                                                                           
                                                ELLIOT SANDER
                                                Deputy Commissioner

































          EJ 230003-RO, et al.

































































          EJ 230003-RO, et al.
























































    

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